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We used to visit my aunt in a nursing facility and I couldn't get over how stark and depressing the rooms and hallways were. It felt like they thought, because the patients weren't all there in the head, that the atmosphere didn't matter. Well the first thing we did, was get my aunt in a wheelchair and wheel her to the front lobby. It had large picture windows, a fireplace, seating areas and a piano. It was a stark contrast to the dreary rooms where she was cared for. My mom would then play piano and we'd gather around to sing hymns. My mom and her sister were pastors daughters and that music was ingrained in them. My aunt would cry and sing (not clearly at all), but couldn't speak. Even though she couldn't respond, we'd sit around and chat with one another and take in the light and music. Many months down the road we'd visit and my aunt was no longer able to sing. But we'd still wheel my aunt to the front and my mom would play piano. My aunt would have tears on her cheeks and her skin would get very warm. I think a part of her was there and her body was responding as her words failed her. I just can't help but think that atmosphere is important...whether in the home or in a nursing facility. Warm lights, filtered sunlight, fresh colored painted walls, music and even aroma therapy. I know it won't bring them back, but do you think it provides some benefits? I'd like to know that one day if I wasn't all there in the head , that my loved ones were still providing a place for me rich with music and light and life!! My mom is now starting to exhibit signs of dementia. She's been at my house visiting and I've opened the curtains to let the light in, played music and turned on twinkle lights and opened windows for fresh air. I swear her mood is better when visiting here. What do you all think? Does the atmosphere help comfort even when they don't respond with words?

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Thanks everyone. I'm sure part of it is also for us...knowing that we are doing what we can to make it a pleasant and happy place...even if she is suffering a bit in her mind.

Bridge walls, fluorescent lighting and no windows is a nightmare.
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Well Sarahk you have already proven that it is helpful for your loved ones.
Read the book Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters by Atul Gawande.
Watch the Teepa Snow videos on dementia on UTube.
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I think a lot of things matter, but, that's just based on what I have read and seen. IMO, the music is definitely a biggie. My LO has severe dementia and I'm not sure how much she absorbs, but, I won't give up on her music. I will continue to try to get that to her on a daily basis.

And, I would imagine that nice smells are a positive too. Of course, it depends on the level of progression. I think that the nicely colored walls, colorful comforter, decor, etc. is really more for others than my LO, although, I do focus on keeping her room cheery, but, she doesn't seem to notice it and in fact, she was never amused with things like that since her dementia. But, if your mom responds to it, then that's great. I'd go with what seems to work.
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My mom is in a facility with nursing home and retirement home divided by secure doors. The nursing home has the same washable floors and beige walls throughout the rooms, halls, dining and lounge, and the seating is all waiting room type vinyl chairs and sofas. When you walk through the doors to the retirement home it is like entering a different world: carpet on the floor, normal furniture, walls a different colour on each wing, all in all much more homey and inviting. While I understand that one is essentially a hospital and cleanliness is a high priority I can't see any reason the NH can't incorporate a little bit of colour, there is nothing inherently sanitary about beige.
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